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PLAYOFF FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Unbeatens Federal Way and Camas set to battle Saturday in quarterfinals
When: 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17
Where: Doc Harris Stadium at Camas High School
What's at stake: A berth into the semifinals of the Class 4A State Football Playoffs. The winner of the Federal Way-Camas game will play the winner of a game between Skyline and Roosevelt inside the Tacoma Dome. Skyline (11-0) has been the top-ranked team in the state all season long and feature USC-bound quarterback Max Browne. Roosevelt (7-4) beat Jackson in the opening round of the playoffs, 42-28.
How they got here: Second-ranked Federal Way dominated the Rogers Rams in the opening round of the Class 4A State Football Tournament, 46-28. The Eagles jumped out to a 40-0 first-half lead and the third and fourth quarters were played with a running clock.
The Eagles cruised to its second-straight SPSL South Division championship, finishing unbeaten.
Camas (11-0) might have had an easier time than Federal Way in their state tournament opener. The third-ranked Papermakers blew away Arlington, 62-6, in Camas Saturday. Camas led 21-0 after the first quarter and 49-0 at halftime. The Papermakers also played the second half with a running clock.
Camas finished unbeaten in the Greater St. Helen's League and have never really been tested this season, much like the Eagles.
This is Camas' first season as a Class 4A school. Last year, the Papermakers advanced into the Class 3A state semifinals before losing to O'Dea, 21-13. Camas also rolled into the 3A quarterfinals in 2010 before losing to Lakes, 27-24.
Why Camas will win: The Papermakers have been more than dominant this season in the GSHL.
On the season, Camas has scored an amazing 542 points in its 11 games. The team scored 30 or more points in 10 of their 11 games, 40 or more points in nine and 50 or more in five different games.
"They have a multitude of weapons on offense," longtime Federal Way head coach John Meagher said. "They are a hurry-up speed offense team, although they use a tight end in most of their formations."
Offensively, the Papermakers are led by quarterback Reilly Hennessey. The junior was 12 of 14 for 141 yards last week during the win over Arlington. On the season, Hennessey has thrown for 2,353 yards and 22 touchdowns.
His favorite target is Zach Eagle, who plays mostly out of the slot in the spread offense. Eagle, the coach's son, has caught 61 passes for 837 yards and seven touchdowns.
Camas' running attack is led by junior Nate Beasley and senior fullback John Norcross. Beasley has rushed for 1,054 yards on 149 carries and has scored 19 touchdowns. He has also caught 18 passes for 337 yards and five TDs. Norcross has scored 15 touchdowns on the year.
Vincente Huber also has rushed for 568 yards and has 12 touchdowns on the ground for Camas.
To illustrate the offensive firepower of Camas, all you have to look at is last week's win over Arlington. The Papermakers scored on their first nine possessions, and ran out the clock on the 10th. Camas was not penalized in the game.
Defensively, the Papermakers really haven't been tested during the season, much like Federal Way. Camas has jumped out to such big leads early in their games that its defense hasn't really been forced to make any crucial stops.
"They are a base 5-2 defense that runs a lot of different coverages behind their front," Meagher said. "They are aggressive to the football and rally to make tackles."
Camas' toughest game came on Oct. 12 when they beat Union, 22-0. Union has been one of the better programs in the area for the last few years.
"They are disciplined and tough," Meagher said. "They don't make a lot of mistakes and won't beat themselves. We are going to have to beat them."
Norcross is the Papermakers' best defender. He was a first-team, All-State selection last year as an inside linebacker. Eagle and Beasley are also solid in the defensive backfield.
"I'm jacked," Hennessey told The Columbian newspaper last week about the Federal Way game. "I can't wait. I hate to say I've been looking forward to that game, but I have."
Why Federal Way will win: The Eagles need to just keep doing what they have been doing, according to Meagher. Federal Way's strengths that have led to the 11-0 record have been speed on the offensive side of the ball and a punishing defense.
"We need to play our brand of football with them and utilize our speed to our advantage," Meagher said. "We will try to put our playmakers in space to give them a chance to make plays. There really isn't anything we are going to do different. We have won 11 games with what we have done so far."
The Eagles should be well rested heading into the game at Camas. No starters played the second half during the win over Rogers last week and the game also saw Federal Way get three starters back.
Running back/returner Chico McClatcher returned after missing the last two games with a sickness and linebacker/fullback Rod Jones and wide receiver Mike Tate played after missing their postseason opener. And all three made huge impacts against Rogers.
McClatcher, who already has a scholarship offer from the University of Washington as a 10th-grader, returned his fourth punt for a touchdown this season. Jones had a 2-yard touchdown run and Tate intercepted a pass on defense.
Federal Way will also be counting on running back Zeek McNeal. The senior topped the 1,000-yard mark against Rogers with 82 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries. On the year, McNeal has 1,002 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 80 carries (12.5 yards a carry).
Defensively, the Eagles were more than dominant in their first two playoff contests. During the time that the starters have played against Issaquah and Rogers, Federal Way has allowed only 147 total yards in six quarters.
Even more impressive, is the fact that 80 of those yards came on a touchdown run by Issaquah's Jack Gellatly on the first play from scrimmage of the 24-14 Eagles win. Since that run, Federal Way has allowed only two total first downs and 67 total yards.
Federal Way has dominated the line of scrimmage with a group that includes Jay-Tee Tiuli (6-3, 295), Winston Havili (6-0, 215), Day-Day Boles-Williams (5-7, 250) and Eric Ah Fua (5-10, 255), along with linebackers Albert Havili (6-2, 235), Jones (6-3, 233) and Marcus Fielder (6-3, 215).
The rest of the defensive backfield features speed galore in D'Londo Tucker, J.J. McNeal, Tate, Keenan Curran and Aaron Persinger, who has six interceptions on the season. In total, the Eagles have 21 interceptions this year.